Category Archives: Managing natural hair

Combating dry natural hair

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Dealing with dry hair can be very frustrating and often feels like a losing battle.  Dry hair is harder to style and more prone to breakage.  It can also cause you to feel self-conscious. So how do we keep our hair moisturized and feeling soft and manageable?

 damaged hair

 

Know the nature of afro-textured hair.

This may be the last thing you want to hear, but afro- textured hair is prone to dryness by nature. Every kink or curl makes it harder for our scalp’s natural oils to travel  down the hair strands.   Having dry hair from time to time is inevitable.  Therefore don’t be stressed about something that cannot be completely avoided. Accept that dry hair may only be minimized.  Just because you experience dry hair occasionally, this doesn’t mean your hair cannot thrive. A little dryness isn’t going to lead to permanently damaged hair, so try not to worry about it. Stress alone is can affect the health of our hair.

Understand that water is moisture

Most of us who have been natural for while are aware of this. However, it is important to mention this again, as it is fundamental to the health of afro- textured hair. Rather than products that are full of petroleum or mineral oil, purchase leave in conditioners that are water based.  This means water or aqua is the first or second ingredient on the list. For those who like to keep it simple (like myself)  spraying your hair lightly with water is just as effective. Remember moisturized hair doesn’t necessarily mean wet hair, so you don’t have to completely drench your hair in water. Usually it is not getting moisture into our hair that is the problem, it is retaining moisture that is the real challenge. 

Retain moisture

One of the most effective ways to lock in moisture is to seal with an oil or butter. Examples of which include: avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and Shea butter. Each have different benefits but achieve the same goal of sealing in moisture. Oil by itself is not sufficient to provide moisture to the hair; it simply works by sealing in the water that would simply evaporate quickly without it. However some oils work by penetrating the hair and thus have moisturizing properties; avocado oil and coconut oil do this for instance. Even so, water should be the main source of moisture.

If you have looser type 3 curls or fine hair, you may find oil too heavy for sealing. aloe vera juice can also be used to seal in moisture without weighing down your hair.

natural hair needs water

 

Use products that contain humectants

Humectants attract moisture from the air to moisturize the hair. Products that contain humectants usually keep the hair moist and gradually provide moisture throughout the day. Glycerin is a popular humectant found in many products. Other humectants include aloe vera gel and honey. Products that contain a lot of glycerin may not be suitable for styling twist outs or braid outs, where definition is important. They may cause frizz, especially if you live in an area with high humidity.  When my hair was shorter, I used to spray it with water and glycerin.  One night, I thought this would be suitable for styling my hair in a twist out.  The next morning, while getting ready for work I took the twists out and thought it looked good. However as the day progressed my hair became more frizzy and puffy. By the afternoon, I had more of a textured afro (which can look great but that wasn’t the look I had planned).  Working as a school teacher, some of the kids ‘politely’ told me my hairstyle reminded them of Sideshow Bob, from The Simpsons. I learned the hard way that glycerin and twist outs do not go together.

However when styling your hair in two strand twists or another protective style,  products with glycerin work very well.  You may even find that you don’t have to reapply any more product for a few days.  Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie contains glycerin and works as an excellent moisturizer for protective styles, buns or puffs. I use it to moisturize my ends when my hair is in a puff and it also helps with manageability before styling.

Shea_Moisture_Curl_Enhancing_Smoothie_12oz__93906.1360707649.1280.1280Use plastic caps

Plastic caps ensure a little moisture goes a long way.  Spray your hair with some water; cover your head with a plastic cap, then wear your satin scarf as normal. Leave it in overnight and you should wake up with moist, manageable hair.  The plastic cap will use your body heat to create more moisture from your scalp.  Even better, saturate your hair with conditioner as well and do the same before a detangling session.  It should make detangling your hair a lot easier.  Regular deep conditioning is essential to maintain the moisture level of your hair. If you don’t have a steamer or hooded dryer, simply covering your head with a plastic cap can be effective.  Wrapping your head with a warm towel over the plastic cap, will provide more heat.

Hydrate from within

Hair is one-quarter water, so water is essential for the health of your hair. Water also carries essential vitamins to the hair root to hydrate the entire strand from the inside. Water provides energy for the hair cells that promote growth and flushes out pollutants, which are the main causes of hair loss. If you don’t drink enough water, both your hair and skin will feel dry. It is recommended that we drink 8-10 glasses of water a day and more when exercising.

water

 

Protective styles

When your hair is worn in a protective style, less moisture is lost. So bear this in mind when deciding how to style your hair. Protective styles include; two strand twists, buns, braids and various updos. The benefit of protective styles are evident but it may not be for everyone. Many prefer to wear their hair out and enjoy versatility. However you have to weigh the pros and cons of this and decide what is best for your hair. There are many beautiful and versatile protective styles to try, that can be done without weaves or extensions.

protective

How do you keep your hair moisturized? Share your ideas below…….

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Saving time when managing your natural hair

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Some women declare that they do not have time to manage their hair in its natural state, and therefore cannot go, or stay, natural. If relaxer had never been invented, I doubt they would make such a claim. Rather, they would have simply learned how to manage their natural hair like everyone else.  Adapting your hair care regimen to suit your schedule and time constraints is important, whatever a person’s hair texture.

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The use of chemicals should be an informed choice, not a necessity. There is nothing inherently wrong or unmanageable about our hair in its natural state. We simply have to realise the importance of educating ourselves about natural hair. And most importantly, our children’s natural hair. If we do this, we will develop the ability to adjust our hair care accordingly. Initially, it is going to take patience and practice, but trust me, it’s worth it!

Here are some suggestions on how to save time when managing your natural hair:

1. Deep Condition your hair before shampooing

Deep conditioning or hot oil treatments don’t have to be done after shampooing.  It can become tedious, shampooing, getting out of the shower, deep conditioning, sitting under the dryer, and getting back in the shower, all over again. If you deep condition or do a hot oil treatment before shampooing, you only have to use the shower once. This will save water and time.

If your shampoo is natural and free of sulphates,  which strip the hair of moisture, the benefits of the deep conditioning will not be ‘washed away’. If you are using a shampoo that contains Sodium Lauryl sulphate and others chemicals, deep conditioning will at least prepare your hair for this. It is likely to result in less moisture depletion.

Some people would call this a ‘pre-poo’ (pre-shampoo). I believe the result is the same, regardless.

2. Detangle in the shower before co-washing
This may not be an option for everyone, as wet hair is weaker. So detangling in the shower, may make the hair more vulnerable to breakage. However, if you use conditioner to detangle, this can be done in the shower and you can go straight into co washing. Put your hair into 6 to 8 sections. Detangle and co-wash one section at a time, and re-twist straight away. The downward motion of the shower water, helps to ensure that your strands are flowing in the same direction and helps with detangling.

Check our Naptural85’s demonstration of this method and a convenient style to do, during the process:

3. Alternatives methods to finger detangling

Studies show that those that finger detangle, have a thicker hair density. However, finger detangling does not work for everyone. There are others who prefer to use a wide tooth comb to detangle, after saturating their hair with conditioner or a mixture of ingredients. Check out KKKM’s method, using her homemade ‘detangling cocktail’. This softens the hair and cut her detangling time down to ten minutes!

4. Keep hair stretched out during the week
If you keep your hair in a stretched out state in-between washing, your hair will be easier and quicker to detangle. Twist-outs and braid-outs are great styles, to keep your hair stretched. Roller sets, flexi-rods and curl formers also keep the hair stretched. If you finger comb your hair after it has been in one of these styles, it will appear in a blown out state. Buns are also great for keeping the hair taut. High buns, low buns, top knots and side buns, all help to keep the hair stretched. When you take your hair down from a bun you will notice this.

Stretched hair with a twist-out

Stretched hair with a twist-out

So there should be less knots, and the hair will be more manageable. This will cut down your detangling session. Detangling your hair after a wash and go, or after it has shrunk during the week, takes a very long time, in my experience. Hence, the reason why I have only attempted a wash and go once, with my 4b hair.

5. Divide the hair into large sections
In my experience, the longer your hair becomes, the less sections you need to divide it into. Dividing your hair between 4 to 6 sections, should make it quicker to wash. We’ve all been there,  working our way through the sections, anticipating getting to the last one. When there are less sections to work through, this moment comes around sooner.

6. Try to remove shed hair whenever possible
Whilst styling my hair, I always take the opportunity to gently remove shed hair. This ensures that less shed hair tangles with the existing hair. There will also be less shed hair to remove on wash day. So while finger combing my hair before styling, I take less than a minute to remove any shed hair.  This reduces the build up of shed hair overall.

When you are short on time, here are some quick hairstyles to try.

Buns



Roll, tuck and pin

Puffs

Short Natural Hair (TWAs)
model twa

For short hair and TWAs try spraying the hair with a water and glycerin mix, to moisturize and enhance your curls. Add a cute accessory, such as a flower or head band. You can create a side parting and pin one side down with a clip.

What do you do to save time with your hair care regimen? Please share your suggestions below.